Tag Archives: Java

Travel Budget & Summary: Indonesia

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So here it comes, the first of many travel budget posts, in which I disclose exactly how much money we have spent in each country we travel through.

I've been umm-ing and aah-ing over whether or not to write these kinds of posts. Talking about money is a very private subject and I worry about being judged about our style of travel by others - while we consider ourselves budget travellers, we certainly do not rough it. Some will read this and scoff that we could have done it a lot cheaper (yes, its true!), whereas others will wonder how it is possible to spend so little on a month long trip for two people!

However, I have decided to go ahead divulge exactly what we are spending on the road, as Alan and I found these kinds of posts by a number of different bloggers insanely helpful while planning how much money we needed to make this trip possible. If this can inspire just one reader to realise that living your travel dream is financially possible - and not as scary as it looks - then this will all be worth it!

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The life of a backpacker ain't so bad - Ubud, Bali

Indonesia: Our Itinerary

As New Zealand citizens, we received a 30 day visa on arrival into Indonesia (we flew into Denpasar, Bali). We stayed in Indonesia for 28 nights, and visited a grand total of four islands. Indonesia consists of more than 17,000 islands, so we barely scratched the surface!

Indonesia: Travel Budget Breakdown

Please note these costs are in New Zealand dollars (NZD), unless otherwise stated.

Total we spent over 29 days for two people: $2,307.45 ($1,153.73 per person)

Daily average per person: $39.80 (our daily budget is $50 each)

We came in 20% under our maximum budget - hooray! How about a category breakdown? Note these costs are for two people and I have rounded to the nearest dollar.

  • Accommodation: $710
  • Food and drink: $700
  • Transport: $520
  • Entertainment/attractions: $201
  • Visas: USD$70 ($35 each for visa on arrival)
  • Shopping: $50 (this includes items like shampoo and soap, but is very high for Indonesia because we purchased our Southeast Asia on a Shoestring Lonely Planet on the way to Bali!)
  • Massages: $47
  • Laundry: $10

Summary

Accommodation

On average we spent about $25 per night on accommodation ($12.50 each), however some places came in well under $20 a night and others we splurged on $30 or more a night - its all about balance, right?

We use Agoda for the majority of our bookings as they have great value 'insider' deals, and most importantly it means we can pay in New Zealand dollars via credit card, which saves us in both currency conversion fees and ATM withdrawal fees!

We always try and book accommodation that includes breakfast, to help offset the cost of food. All but two of our accommodations in Indonesia included breakfast.

We stayed in private double rooms, mostly at guesthouse style accommodations. Private bathrooms (as in, adjoined to your room and not shared) are common in Indonesia, and all of our rooms had them.

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Food

On average we spent about $25 a day on food and drink, for both of us. Mostly, this included lunch and dinner, as breakfast was usually included with the accommodation. Some of our cheapest meals were $2 for both of us (crazy cheap!), whereas our more expensive ones were western food and hovered between $15 and $20 for two (mainly Yogyakarta and Ubud). An average meal of a plate of noodles or rice-based dish with a smoothie at a sit down restaurant, cost about $8 for both of us.

This category also includes beer, which we would have most days (often one with dinner, sometimes a couple more), plus our unhealthy obsession with pringles and cornetto ice creams which is a bad habit that we are working on! Beers typically cost about 20,000 - 30,000 rupiah each ($2-3). We also had quite an unnecessary splurge on Starbucks at Jakarta airport on our final morning, ridding our wallets of our remaining rupiah.

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Transport

We hired a scooter in Ubud, Nusa Lembongan and Lovina, costing us between $5-8 a day. We love the independence of having a scooter!

We used tourist buses to get from place to place in Bali, and a mixture of local and minibuses throughout Java. We wanted to catch trains but unfortunately our route didn't really make much sense to take the railway, we would have had to combine with bus travel making it more expensive and more complicated. Long, sticky bus journeys were the best way round for us.

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We were really pleased with ourselves for coming in well under budget in Indonesia - so much so that we splurged much of what we had saved on visiting Universal Studios in Singapore! Because, um, YOLO. But thats a story for another time.

Tell me what you think - is it interesting to read about our travel budget? Are you surprised with how little (or how much) Indonesia cost us?


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Crushing my Surfing Dreams in Pangandaran, Indonesia

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Pangandaran was originally on our Java itinerary as a mere night’s stopover on the way to Batu Karas, but after staying a night and realising that Pangandaran had everything we were looking for, we decided to extend our stay and enjoy the three nights we had up our sleeve in one spot.

“Everything’ I was looking for was simply a beach with surfing lessons, suitable for beginners, and thats more or less what I got.

I’d been hanging out to learn how to surf since the beginning of the year, when we started planning for our trip to Costa Rica in May. Unfortunately, while we were there my back was injured in a particular tandem waterslide incident and I was unable to fulfil my dreams of becoming a pro surfer. When my back improved and we made our plans to visit Bali my surfing dreams re-emerged, only to be quashed again after arriving in Kuta and watching approximately a million people leaning how to surf right in front of me, constantly falling off their boards.

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There was no way I was making a fool of myself learning to surf in front of this many people. Nuh-uh. A quick consult in my trusty Lonely Planet pointed me to Java’s southern beaches for more secluded surf and also significantly cheaper lessons, and thus Pangandaran became part of our route.

Pangandaran is an interesting place. Its a town on a small peninsular, with ocean on either side and a national park at one end.

On one side the ocean laps a nice beach. I say ‘nice’ because thats what it is. Look, its really nothing special compared to Bali’s spectacular beaches. But its nice enough and certainly adequate for what a beach should provide.

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On the other side the ocean meets a rocky wall, infested with rats, fish guts and rubbish. This is the working side of the beach, where the fishermen come into harbour and fish are laid out to be sold or to dry. It certainly smells like it, thats for sure!

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There were some activities on this side of the peninsular, like banana boating, but, uh, that didn’t appeal to us too much given the fishy odour and amount of rotting litter everywhere. There were seafood restaurants on this side of town, but unfortunately these too didn’t appeal.

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I don’t paint the most beautiful picture of Pangandaran, but its actually a very pleasant destination for a relaxing few days. Pangandaran is quite a touristy beach but interestingly much more so with local tourists rather than foreigners. It is a popular place for apartment-dwellers from Jakarta or other nearby big cities for a weekend getaway.

Pangandaran was relatively quiet when we were there, yet at night the small town seemed to come alive. There were tandem bikes (I’m not sure our relationship could handle a tandem bike situation?) - not just doubles, but triples, quadruples and I’m sure I saw even longer ones coasting by. Surely not particularly safe to ride in the dark at night with no helmets and no lights but hey, it’s Indonesia, so we saw a lot of that. Even more spectacular were the quadracycles decorated entirely with neon lights - it was a common sight to see a big group of happy Indonesian tourists cycling around on their blindingly bright, family-sized bike, around singing songs at the top of their lungs.

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But thats right, we were there for the surf, weren’t we! It cost a mere pittance compared to Kuta, we basically had the waves to ourselves, and our own personal instructor each. Shame my instructor couldn’t speak any English or I perhaps would have known what I was doing wrong and would have been able to stand up after what felt like a million failed attempts! Meanwhile, Alan was coasting into shore time and time again while I continuously stumbled and plunged into the sea. After a short break that included a few tears, a bottle of water and some encouragement, I bravely made my way back into the surf and managed to not only stand up but ride a few waves right into shore! Ending on a high, I momentously decided to give up on my dream of becoming a pro surfer then and there.

But I can always be cheered up by kittens! This kitten at our guesthouse became particularly fond of us and often wandered into our room unannounced or pounced and clawed for pats while we were trying to eat our breakfast.

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We considered visiting the small national park and one lazy afternoon we did wander down to the entrance, but were put off entering by the terrifying monkeys outside, and knew that there would only be more monkeys inside! We didn't deem them unsafe until some local boys were walking past and a monkey jumped down and bounded towards them, the boys screamed and tore off in the opposite direction, and the scavenging monkey stole the kids' drinks. If even the locals were scared of them, surely I was allowed to be! We went and ate ice cream instead.

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While I did truly enjoy our time in Pangandaran, it is one of those places that I’m not sure I’ll ever visit again. It was quite a detour off the path of our travels so meant at least 10 extra hours on a bus than if we hadn’t gone there (it took us about 8 hours squished on a minibus from Yogyakarta to Pangandaran with chickens pooping at our feet, then another 10 hours bus ride from Pangandaran to Jakarta). I tried to convince Alan I was considering we have a destination wedding there - I could totally see all of our family riding around singing at the top of their voices on neon-lit bikes! He knows me too well to fall for that one.

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Sharing our bus stations with the chickens, waiting for our ride to Jakarta

Pangandaran was nice - if you’re in the area and craving beach time it will serve you well! But if you're looking for an immaculate beach and that clear, 'I'm in a tropical paradise' kind of water, it might not be Pangandaran you’re after.

Have you visited Pangandaran? Ever ridden a tandem bike?


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Indulging in Yogyakarta, Indonesia

After our very long journey, we had finally arrived in Yogyakarta.

I loved this little city in Central Java, Indonesia, to bits. I’m not sure if my love stemmed from finally being able to sleep after our mega-journey, the fact that I finally remembered what being clean felt like, or because Yogaykarta, more commonly known as Jogja to the locals, truly is a lovely city.

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Perhaps the first thing I loved about Yogyakarta was where we stayed. We had been discussing our Indonesia itinerary with a fellow traveller during our time in Bali. “In Yogyakarta, you must stay at Hotel Rengganis!” she informed us, “It is a little more expensive than a hostel but it is so, so nice.” I’d made a note in my now dog-eared Lonely Planet, and hadn’t given it much thought until we were in Probolinggo and suddenly needed to book a room in Yogyakarta that night. With a stroke of luck, we managed to book the last room available.

And I’m so glad we did!

Staying at Hotel Rengganis was a dream after such an exhausting journey. While it was the most expensive accommodation we had stayed in so far, the value was incredible. I couldn’t believe were were paying just NZD$31 a night for this! Right from the beginning the staff were always smiling, helpful, and appeared to be genuinely happy to be there.

We woke up each morning to an all-you-can-eat breakfast spread of eggs, peanut butter & nutella jaffles and tropical fruits, along with ever-changing Indonesian options and endless cups of tea & coffee.

We ended each day with a splash in the pool, cooling us down after a hard days work walking around sightseeing in the 30+ degree heat.

I’ll get to the touristy things we did, but first lets talk food - because we had some serious highlights in Yogyakarta! We were quick to find a couple of favourites in our short time there.

Just Juice Juice Bar, Cafe & Fruit Corner

Address: Jl. Katamso 214

We had four days in Yogyakarta, so if I do the math I guess we frequented Just Juice about four times! It became our routine to take a mid-morning walk to this fantastic Juice Bar, about 10 minutes from our hotel. It was a little oasis on the side of a busy street - clean, bright and cool (in both senses of the word!). You can’t beat one of their ice-cold mango smoothies for just 7,500 rupiah (NZ 75 cents), which we may have overdosed on. And I may have had a 1,000 rupiah ($1) banana split for morning tea one day, that may have included three scoops of ice cream. You can’t beat that for value! But seriously, its more than a month on now and Just Juice remains both the cheapest and the most delicious mango smoothies we have had yet (and based on the number we’ve had, we are no amateurs to the mango smoothie game).

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Mediterranea Restaurant

Address: Jl. Tirtodipuran 24A

Given our first night was a write-off after arriving at 1am in the morning, we had four nights left to eat our way around Yogyakarta. After being in Indonesia for three weeks I was ready for a night off from Indonesian cuisine, but was also sick of being served average ‘western’ food. We stumbled across Mediterranea (a mere two minutes walk from our hotel), a restaurant run by a French chef, specialising in French and Italian food. I was craving a bowl of hot pasta - so we thought we would give it a shot. OH MY GOSH. My bowl of pasta carbonara (with beef bacon, not pork, as Indonesia is a very muslim country) was the BEST carbonara I’ve ever had - it was even served with a side of freshly made pesto which was so tasty I could have drunk it though a straw. I just about licked the bowl clean...but mum taught me better than that. Alan had a deliciously authentic pepperoni pizza, which was declared the best he’d had in Indonesia. We shared a chocolate fondant and a cheesecake for dessert. I couldn’t stop thinking about it, so much so that we went back on our last night for an exact repeat on the same meal. Its not the cheapest in terms of Indonesian pricing, but compared to what you’d pay back home its a steal! We had all of the above plus a large beer for about NZD$20.

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ViaVia Yogyakarta

Address: Jl. Prawirotaman 30

An Art Cafe of sorts, ViaVia is a busy and popular tourist hub, perhaps from its mention in the Lonely Planet and its other 16 locations worldwide. We didn’t do any of their tours or activities, but we were lucky enough to snag a table for dinner in their restaurant one night which was a rather tasty affair. My mango lassi and spaghetti bolognese (yes, I was on a pasta kick in Yogyakarta - don’t judge!) were delectable and Alan’s special of the day - an Indonesian chicken and rice dish had him licking his lips.

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You may have worked out by now that I ate pasta three of the four nights in Yogyakarta, and you might be wondering what Indonesian delicacy I indulged in on the remaining night? Is it awkward if I'm honest and say it was margherita pizza and creme brûlée? Yogyakarta is such an artsy city with a multicultural feel that I would surely be doing an injustice not to explore cuisines of the world (or, um, cuisines of the Mediterranean)…?

Right, so now that I’ve admitted I was a pasta-eating machine in Yogyakarta, I’ll at least give evidence that we did some sightseeing rather than sitting poolside all day showing forkfuls of spaghetti into my gob.

We visited Kraton, the Sultan’s Palace, which was quite lovely and worth a wander, however Alan and I both agreed it probably wasn’t a highlight of ours. Strangely, Alan wasn’t allowed in without covering his shoulders, yet I was (we were both wearing singlets?). I had a pretty purple scarf in the backpack should the shoulder-covering issue arise, so Alan slung it over his shoulders but the guards were having none of that - he wasn’t allowed in unless he rented a sexy white shirt from them. Naturally, as western tourists aka Walking ATMs, the sexy white shirt it was.

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The nearby Taman Sari, or Water Castle, was a garden property of the Sultan's. We got a little lost trying to find it and ended up with a local tour guide showing us the way. He showed us around some rather interesting tunnels near Taman Sari, which we had no idea what they were for because the english-speaking guide couldn't actually speak a word of english. It was so bizarre, he walked along speaking gibberish to us and we were both so awkwardly confused we didn’t know whether to smile or nod or laugh or try and explain that the language he thought was english actually wasn’t?

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When we led us around a few corners to Taman Sari, we paid him $1 in thanks (which perhaps he should put towards some english lessons) and wandered in for a self-guided tour around the pools. It was a beautiful setting.

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The bathing pools of Taman Sari have an interesting background, in which the Sultan would stand in his tower, observe all the ladies bathing in the pools below and essentially 'make his pick'. Perhaps one could take a view of that being mildy inappropriate, but I guess thats the way things were back then.

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A couple of times we wandered down to the centre of Yogyakarta which was about a 30 minute walk from our hotel in the sweltering heat. The main road, Jalan Malioboro, has market stalls either side of the footpath selling everything from fake raybans and jewellery to spices and sweets. It was one of the things I enjoyed doing the most in Yogyakarta (besides eating pasta of course), I love wandering markets and city streets, taking it in through all of my senses.

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Of course, no visit to Yogyakarta is complete without a visit to the nearby famous temples - Borobodur and Prambanan. For a number of different reasons, including the steep entry fees (expensive when you are on a tight budget!), distance from Yogyakarta, and the fact that we know we are going to see a hell of a lot of temples on the course of our trip through Asia, we decided to narrow it down to one and just visit Borobodur, which was about 1.5 hours drive away.

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Borobodur was beautiful! We went for an evening sunset trip because we were still feeling sorry for ourselves after our Bromo sunrise trip, and while we didn’t quite catch the sunset we did get some stunning light, gorgeous vistas and had a great time wandering around and observing the temple at each symbolic level.

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Borobodur is a Buddhist temple dating back to the 9th century, and is said to be the world's largest Buddhist archeological site. Each level depicts stories carved meticulously into stone, it is quite fascinating!

Many stone Buddhas watch you from every angle as you slowly wander to the top - there were originally an incredible 504 Buddha statues but you can see a lot of them have been damaged over time, and sadly some are completely missing.

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Finally, we visited the Silver Village, which is a suburb about 20 minutes (about $2) in a bicycle rickshaw from the centre of town. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it was really just a series of shops selling copious amounts of silver and silver-plated jewellery. However, one that we walked into did have a very interesting display out the back explaining how the jewellery was made, and you were able to watch the workers making silver wire along with some of their popular designs which was pretty neat. I was too lazy to snap any photos but Alan and I both thought it was worth the trip.

It was suggested that we also visit the Bird Market but I politely declined the offer as from what I had read this was more than just a market selling birds, but also included dogs, cats and all sorts of other animals in tiny cages, and it was something that I didn't want to face (I still think about these dogs every single day). We did see a variety of fluffy birds during our wanders through the city that were bright yellow, pink and blue - obviously dyed - so perhaps that was a small insight for me as to what the Bird Market held. That kind of thing just isn’t for me!

I could have stayed a lot longer in Yogyakarta (and eaten a lot more pasta!), but time was not on our side and we had to make our move to our next stop on the island of Java. As the bus picked us up to transport us to our next destination, I nearly shed a little tear for the fact that I may never eat such delicious pasta carbonara again…

Have you visited Yogyakarta? Did you love it too? And, do you sometimes feel guilty for not always eating the local cuisine when you are travelling?


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